Types of Clear Braces

types of clear braces
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Braces have come a long way from the days of clunky metal mouth gear. Today, adults and teens alike can transform their smiles with more discreet orthodontic treatments. Clear aligners, and lingual and ceramic braces offer aesthetic appeal while straightening teeth effectively and efficiently.

Deciding on clear braces depends on a few factors – cost, level of desired correction, and length of treatment. In this article, we will overview the different types of clear braces. We’ll compare how they work and what kind of orthodontic cases they best treat. We’ll also discuss the pros and cons of each regarding aesthetics, comfort, hygiene, and more. By understanding the differences, you can decide which clear braces option makes the most sense for your smile goals and lifestyle needs.

Ceramic Braces

Clear braces function similarly to traditional metal braces but stand out due to their less noticeable appearance, making them a popular choice among adults and teens who are conscious about the aesthetics of orthodontic treatment. These braces are constructed from high-quality ceramic or porcelain materials, or sometimes a composite that mimics the color of natural teeth, blending in more seamlessly with the wearer’s smile. The brackets, which attach to the front of each tooth, are connected by a thin archwire that guides the teeth into their correct positions over time. Tiny elastic bands, or ligatures, secure the wire to the brackets, and these can be clear or tooth-colored for an even less visible appearance.

One of the significant advantages of clear ceramic braces is their cosmetic appeal, as they are much less noticeable than metal braces. They offer a level of discretion that can be particularly appealing to those in professional environments or anyone who might feel self-conscious about wearing braces. They are capable of addressing a wide range of orthodontic issues, from simple alignment problems to more complex bite issues, making them versatile in their application.

However, there are some drawbacks to consider. Ceramic braces are generally more fragile than their metal counterparts, making them more susceptible to damage and potentially leading to more frequent visits to the orthodontist for repairs. They can also be more costly, which might be a critical factor for some patients. Another consideration is staining; while the ceramic brackets themselves are stain-resistant, the ligatures can discolor over time, especially if exposed to foods and drinks known to cause stains, such as coffee, tea, and red wine. This can compromise the aesthetic advantage they hold.

Lingual Braces

Lingual braces are custom-made to fit the unique contours of the back surfaces of the teeth, making them virtually invisible to others. The process involves attaching small metal brackets to the inner surfaces of the teeth, which are then connected by a thin archwire that applies consistent pressure to gently guide the teeth into their correct positions over time. The customization and placement of lingual braces require specialized training and expertise, making them a more specialized treatment option compared to traditional braces.

Suitable for addressing a variety of dental concerns, from minor misalignments to more complex cases of malocclusion, lingual braces offer the significant advantage of discretion, allowing patients to undergo treatment without visible braces. Furthermore, unlike clear ceramic braces, they are not prone to staining, maintaining their inconspicuous appearance throughout the treatment duration.

However, lingual braces come with their own set of considerations. They might initially lead to discomfort or irritation on the tongue and could temporarily affect speech, necessitating an adjustment period. The placement of the braces on the inner surfaces of the teeth also makes them more challenging to clean, increasing the potential for plaque buildup and emphasizing the need for rigorous oral hygiene practices. Lingual braces can also be more expensive due to the customization and specialized skill required for their installation and adjustment.

See our Incognito Braces vs Invisalign comparison.

Clear Aligners

Clear aligners are made from medical-grade plastic that is both flexible and durable, providing a virtually invisible method to correct teeth misalignment. The manufacturing process involves taking a precise 3D scan or dental impressions of the patient’s mouth to design a series of custom-fitted aligners that apply targeted pressure to the teeth, gradually shifting them into the desired position over time. Each aligner is worn for about two weeks before moving on to the next in the series, allowing for incremental adjustments that gently guide the teeth. T

Clear aligners are far less noticeable than traditional braces. Additionally, their removable nature offers unparalleled convenience, allowing for normal eating, brushing, and flossing routines, which can contribute to better overall oral hygiene during treatment. Clear aligners are also known for their comfort, with no metal brackets or wires to cause irritation.

However, the success of clear aligners heavily relies on patient compliance; they must be worn for the recommended 20-22 hours per day to be effective, which can be a challenge for some patients. While they are resistant to staining from wear, poor maintenance can lead to discoloration. Clear aligners are most effective for mild to moderate orthodontic issues, such as overcrowding, gaps, and certain bite problems, but may not be suitable for more complex cases that require the robust corrective capabilities of traditional braces.

Here are some of the best invisible aligners that you can choose from with reviews:

AlignerCo is a well-known brand that provides an affordable aligner program. Their prices are lower than most other aligner brands, with treatment starting at just $945, which also includes free retainers and a teeth whitening kit. 

AlignerCo

AlignerCo

The cheapest at-home aligners, with monthly plans, no down payment, and considerable discounts.

Check out AlignerCo Aligners

NewSmile is one of the newest aligner brands on the market and is known for its affordability. When you purchase their aligners, you receive an impression kit, whitening foam, aligners, and retainers. This brand also provides monthly payment plans without requiring any initial payments, offers a video call option with a specialist to assist with mouth impressions, and has a user-friendly online assessment process.

NewSmile

NewSmile

Affordable at-home treatment with positive reviews offering superior look and comfort.

Check out NewSmile Aligners

Byte is a well-known brand that offers a lifetime guarantee for your aligners. This means that if your teeth don’t stay in the desired treatment position afterward, you’ll receive additional impression kits, treatment plans, and sets of aligners at no additional cost to correct any misalignments.

Byte

Byte

An affordable option with refundable impression kits, free HyperByte, and a Byte for Life guarantee.

Check out Byte Aligners

Candid is a highly regarded aligner product with a treatment approach similar to Invisalign. Unlike the other brands mentioned, Candid doesn’t offer a direct-to-home ordering service. Instead, a qualified orthodontist will assess your eligibility for treatment. The advantage is that you won’t need regular appointments after starting treatment. Candid aligners are suitable for addressing both mild and severe spacing issues.

Candid

Candid

A hybrid of in-office and at-home treatment that provides 1-on-1 orthodontist support.

Check out Candid Aligners

What is the Cost of Each Type of Braces?

The cost of braces can vary significantly based on the complexity and duration of the treatment needed. Clear braces, offering a more aesthetic option, can set you back anywhere from $4,000 to $8,000. For those seeking an even less visible solution, lingual braces, which are tailored and positioned behind the teeth, tend to be pricier due to their specialized nature, averaging between $8,000 to $10,000. On the more economical side, traditional metal braces are available, with costs ranging from $3,000 to $7,000.

For less severe cases, clear aligners present an even more budget-friendly alternative, with some treatments available for under $1,000. However, opting for a well-known brand like Invisalign could increase the cost, with prices ranging from $4,000 to $7,400, blending the benefits of clear aligners with the assurance of a renowned brand.

See our article: How Much Is Single Arch Orthodontic Treatment?

Which Type of Clear Braces Works the Fastest?

When considering the speed of treatment among various clear braces options, it’s important to understand that the effectiveness and speed of any orthodontic treatment can vary widely depending on the individual’s specific dental issues and the complexity of their case.

Generally, clear aligners, like Invisalign, are often perceived to work faster for mild to moderate cases, particularly because they are custom-designed for the individual, allowing for a highly efficient treatment plan that moves teeth incrementally toward the desired position. The continuous wear of clear aligners, with changes to the next set every two weeks or so, ensures a constant pressure that can lead to quicker results for suitable candidates.

However, for more complex dental issues requiring significant tooth movement or rotation, traditional braces, even with clear or ceramic options, might be more effective, albeit over a potentially longer treatment period.

See our article: Quickest Way to Straighten Teeth.

Worth Knowing

According to research published in Angle Orthodontist, conventional braces typically require more visits and longer treatment time, averaging 5.5 months longer than clear aligner therapy.

Types of Clear Braces – Which Option is Best For You?

Choosing the right type of clear braces depends on several important factors. The severity of the orthodontic issue is a primary consideration; clear and lingual braces are generally more suitable for complex cases, while clear aligners are better suited for milder conditions. Each option offers aesthetic benefits over traditional metal braces, but clear aligners have the added advantages of being removable and easier to clean, making them a practical choice for maintaining oral hygiene.

Clear aligners also stand out for those who prioritize convenience and time, as they don’t require regular visits to the orthodontist. This allows for treatment to be managed at home, avoiding the need for frequent appointments and associated costs. Ultimately, the decision between clear braces, lingual braces, and clear aligners should be based on an evaluation of the individual’s specific needs and circumstances.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Braces are the Most Discreet?

Clear aligners use transparent, almost invisible, retainer-type appliances that are the clearest of all treatment types and have the added benefit of being fully removable at any time too.

Sources

Jaber, S. T., Hajeer, M. Y., Sultan, K., Treatment Effectiveness of Clear Aligners in Correcting Complicated and Severe Malocclusion Cases Compared to Fixed Orthodontic Appliances: A Systematic Review, Cureus. 2023 Apr; 15(4): e38311. DOI: 10.7759/cureus.38311. Available online at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10148732/

Lagravere, M. O., Flores-Mir, C., The treatment effects of Invisalign orthodontic aligners: A systematic review; The Journal of the American Dental Association, 2005. DOI: 10.14219/jada.archive.2005.0117. Available online at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0002817714624545

Papageorgiou, S. N., Gölz, L., Jäger, A., Eliades, T., Bourauel, C., Lingual vs. labial fixed orthodontic appliances: systematic review and meta-analysis of treatment effects. Eur J Oral Sci. 2016;124(2):105-18. DOI: 10.1111/eos.12250. Available online at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26916846/

Mortazavi, M., et al. An updated systematic review on the effectivity of clear aligner therapy: A review. Journal of Craniomaxillofacial Research. (2020). Available online at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/349579223_An_updated_systematic_review_on_the_effectivity_of_clear_aligner_therapy

Buschang, P.H., Shaw S.G., Ross M., Crosby D., Campbell P.M., Comparative time efficiency of aligner therapy and conventional edgewise braces. Angle Orthod (2014). DOI: 10.2319/062113-466. Available online at: https://meridian.allenpress.com/angle-orthodontist/article/84/3/391/58505/

Iza Wojnarowski

Content contributor

Iza is a dedicated content contributor for Toothific. Having worn braces twice and currently using Invisalign to correct a mild overbite, Iza brings a unique perspective to her writing. She spends her time staying updated on the latest dental trends and treatments, ensuring her readers have the most current information for their dental care needs.

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